Publication Date

Fall 10-22-2019


The results of the Flint water crisis were disastrous. Permanent damage has been done to Flint’s most vulnerable residents, the city’s water system, and residents’ trust in government institutions.

This policy brief describes the shortcomings of Michigan’s emergency management (EM) system and informs policymakers on potential improvements for its eventual replacement. It frames the EM system within the logic and practice of urban austerity politics and demonstrates how emergency manager policies are not race-neutral approaches to solving urban financial crises. It considers what the Flint water crisis suggests about policy mechanisms that might prevent future environmental health crises, outlining the role of social workers in this process.

Document Type

Policy Brief


Environment and Social Development


Environment and Social Development

Original Citation

Krings, A., Kornberg, D., & Lee, S. (2019). Lessons and policy implications from the Flint water crisis (CSD Policy Brief No. 19-41). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.


Environment and Social Development


Flint water crisis, public policy, environmental racism